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6 tips from Marrin Costello on harnessing the power of your community to grow a brand

July 25, 2023 | Published by Faire

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Marrin Costello

Marrin Costello is a businesswoman, jewelry designer, and brand architect: a spiritual optimist who turned a childhood passion for beading into a luxury lifestyle brand. You may have seen her jewelry designs on red carpets, influencers, celebrities, and everyday people across the globe. Much of Costello’s success has come from a strong focus on people. By creating a company that prioritizes community, connection, and sparking confidence in others, Costello has built a loyal following that’s only continuing to grow. 

We got a chance to sit down with Costello to learn a bit about how she got started, her current podcasting and consulting ventures, and her dedication to sustainability. In addition to sharing Costello’s story, we’ve rounded up six valuable tips on how to grow your small business into a brand as universally adored as hers. 

1. Harness your passion

Marrin Costello jewelry

Costello started her jewelry journey early, selling her designs at a local craft fair when she was just 10 years old. As the years passed, she kept at it—bringing pieces in Tupperware boxes to grammar school to sell to classmates and then to boutiques in high school. “I sold my jewelry on consignment for less than what I paid for the materials,” she says. “I didn’t intend for it to be revenue-generating. It was my joy and my first love.”

When she graduated college, Costello moved into fashion show event production where she learned the ins and outs of high-end luxury and department stores. Several years in, she found herself working two demanding jobs in both events and jewelry production, and she had to choose: continue on this path or take a risk on her true passion. She followed her gut and chose the latter.

Today, her jewelry can be found in hundreds of stores, and her brand is beloved by influencers, celebrities, and customers around the world. Costello’s passion has only continued to grow alongside her business. “Jewelry is such a fun industry because emotion is tied so closely to it,” she says. “It’s meant to be worn and loved and passed down. And just seeing the joy that it brings people gives me chills.”

2. Know your audience

Costello’s number-one goal is to serve her community and make people feel good about themselves. When it comes to designing her jewelry line, her focus is on her customers, their needs, and what makes them shine. “If I were just designing for myself, the line would look completely different,” she says. “Don’t get me wrong, I love my stuff. But I’m designing to make other people feel good.”

By separating her own needs and preferences from those of the wider community, Costello is able to create intentionally for every type of person. Instead of just making jewelry that she likes, she can look at the data and see what others want. “We’re very strategic with what we design, what we keep, and what we let go of,” she says. 

3. Think beyond sales

Marrin Costello recording her radio show and podcast

Costello takes a multichannel approach to her lifestyle brand. In this sense, she isn’t just focusing on jewelry sales. “I’m in it for the long game,” she says. “I want my brand to be greater than jewelry—even though our jewelry reach is amazing and the community behind our jewelry brand is amazing—I want to connect with others.” 

This is why she launched the Marrin Costello Radio show and podcast, which focuses on entrepreneurial stories with impactful people and provides listeners with an inside look at how others build and run a business. “I knew that I wanted to celebrate people in other industries, not just jewelry, not just fashion. There are so many different choices and agency you have as an entrepreneur. And so, I wanted to not only learn for myself but also share those stories with the public.” 

This desire to share entrepreneurial stories with others is also why she launched her own consulting business, where she advises people about their own ventures. “The consulting business was born of people coming to me asking, ‘Hey, can I pick your brain for a little bit?’ ”

Whether it’s with her jewelry, her podcasting, or her consulting, community is always top of mind for Costello. Her goals are not just to make people feel their best, but to encourage entrepreneurial efforts and celebrate the wins of people who are doing good things in the world—no matter who they are, where they’re from, or what industry they’re in. 

Ultimately, serving her larger community of buyers, ambassadors, and fellow entrepreneurs has opened the doors for the success and growth of her own business. 

4. Develop relationships first

While products may change and the economy may shift, relationships—if you work at them—will endure. “If you can get to know people’s stories and get to know them on a human level, you can sell anything to anyone,” Costello says.

“We have a very close relationship with all of our retailers. I really like that personal, in-person touch,” she says. “We offer some retailers a really high-level concierge service. Even with a full team, I will still hand deliver products when I can.” 

These close relationships are also the crux of how Costello manages her influencer program. Costello’s team makes sure to really get to know their brand ambassadors. She calls these influencers her soldiers: the people who are out in the world wearing her jewelry and can vouch for the brand. “It’s really about remembering your influencers and your customers—these are people with stories and souls. We try to lead with that.” 

Costello also solicits feedback from her influencers and the wider community—and recommends that entrepreneurs listen to feedback and be nimble wherever they can. 

“In all parts of your business, develop the relationship first. Your product will ebb and flow and change, but the relationships are the thing that has longevity.”

5. Get sustainable

Costello is dedicated to reducing her carbon footprint wherever possible. That means ensuring she has earth-friendly practices both internally and externally. To start: With every purchase from Marrin Costello Jewelry, a tree is planted. 

On the product level, every piece is made from an environmentally conscious stainless steel base and is sourced from manufacturers that are in compliance with local and national laws, care for the environment, and uphold respect and safety for their workers. “The decision to start working with hypoallergenic and non-tarnish materials was really challenging. We had 500 products at the time, and when we made this change, we went down to 20. I thought I’d have it done in three months, but it’s taken two to three years.” 

Today, all the packaging is made from compostable, biodegradable, and reusable materials. What’s more: Any product that doesn’t meet her standards is offered to customers at a discounted rate, sold at sample sales, or donated to local charities (instead of being tossed away). 

“My advice for folks who have a feeling about something that they either want to do or know what needs to happen is to do it. I mean, trust divine timing, but take the leap.” 

6. Give yourself permission to evolve

Costello says that she runs her business off her gut feelings and spirituality—it’s how she can best show up as a leader for her staff and for her customers. This is what helps her keep an open mind as doors inevitably close and open. She’s excited to someday expand her product line, go into different product avenues, and perhaps even create an experiential space for her community to come together. 

In order to get to this point in your business, she says the first thing you need to do is prioritize your relationship with yourself. “The more you know yourself, the more everything around you will flourish. The better your decision-making will be, the better your leadership skills will be as you grow your business and your brand.” 

This also means knowing when to switch directions, pivot, and ask for help. Know when to outsource with brand-building tools and additional team members. And of course, be ready to face any challenges that come your way.

“I don’t hang my hat on my challenges. For me, there’s no ego attached. So if someone doesn’t like something, I’m like, ‘Great, let’s not put that in your store. I don’t want you to get anything from the brand that you don’t really, really love.’ ” 

Finally, Costello advises any hopeful entrepreneurs to just take the plunge. “Just do it. You’re going to be on that path, and I guarantee you 10 years from now, you’re going to say to yourself, ‘I wish I had started sooner.’ ”

Shop Marrin Costello on Faire and visit her website.

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